Written by Cindy Beall
At Re:Treat last November, many of you sent in questions to us. After reading through all of them, we pulled out the ones that seemed to be more common. We will address four questions over the next two weeks.
What safeguards do you put in place to protect your marriage?
Years and years ago, my husband and I had a dear friend who came to see us almost every weekend. He was a fantastic man of God. We were very close. He was like a brother to me. We spent time together sometimes without my husband and during those times, we often shared our hearts and dreams.
I sit here shaking my head at my actions and in disbelief that I never committed adultery with him. Not because I liked him in that way, because I didn’t. I loved my husband. But, when you find a refuge, any sort of respite with a man other than your husband, danger awaits. I praise God that I didn’t not get tricked into an adulterous scenario by my spiritual enemy.
We receive questions similar to the one above consistently. But to merely put plans, guidelines and rules in place to protect our marriages is not enough. To do this and not address the heart of the person is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound that needs serious attention. Yes, it is smart to have some dos and don’ts about what will keep our marriages healthy and protected and I will suggest some, but it cannot start there. The best way to protect a marriage is to relentlessly pursue Jesus on your own as well as with your husband.
Scripture teaches us that the heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Yet, we hear all the time that we are “good people” and will “do the right things.” Friend, we were born with a sinful nature and our bent is to sin. Make no mistake about that. So, we must pursue Jesus if we want to walk with a pure heart before God instead of a deceitful one. We must spend time with Him, in His Word meditating on His character and His ways so that we can know His voice. Because when we know His voice, we know when He speaks and when we know when He speaks, we can be confident as we follow His lead.
So as you pursue Jesus, here are some practical safeguards to put into place to protect your marriage:
Be a cheerleader. Your husband needs support and encouragement. There will be other people who do that in his life, but just make sure your voice is the loudest. You can either build him up with your words or tear him down. Make sure yours carry the most weight with him. Heck, go buy the whole cheerleading outfit complete with pom poms and tassels if you want. Just be his biggest fan.
Create a sanctuary at home. Your home is the place that needs to be protected for your husband, yourself and your family. When you serve the body of Christ in a full-time ministry role, you must have a safe place where your family can unwind and rest. If the home is chaotic, your husband may not rush home from work. Establish a setting that is comfortable, peaceful and a refuge. Make your husband want to come home.
Keep your guard up. I don’t care if you are absolutely, 100% smitten with your husband and he with you. You must be on your guard when communicating with the opposite sex. As a pastor, you both will communicate with the opposite sex. Just make sure there is a boundary in place that keeps you from sharing personal issues that create a vulnerable environment. I often bring up my husband’s name when talking with a man. I might say, “Chris and I so appreciate all you’ve done for the so and so” or something like that. When you do speak to someone of the opposite sex, make sure it’s in an open space. Don’t spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex – grab an extra person to sit in on a counseling or lunch appointment. Be safe. Be smart. I’ve spoken with more women and men who’ve been unfaithful to their spouse than I can even remember and do you want to know how many of them planned to commit adultery? Zero. Not one single person I’ve talked to said, “Yeah, I had a feeling I would break my wife’s heart or husband’s heart about seven years into our marriage.” Keep your guard up because your spiritual enemy takes no days off. And he will take something that started with pure intentions and turn it into a disastrous situation. Trust me.
Find your porch. Make time to connect with your spouse each day. Notice I said “make time.” That’s right. Our lives can be hectic and over-scheduled, and we throw the phrase “I don’t have time for…” around all the time. The truth is that we have time for what’s important to us. Whatever way you enjoy connecting with each other, do that! All couples are not created equal so what works for one couple doesn’t always work for another. Sit outside on your porch like my husband and I do. Take walks. Go to a movie. Exercise. Go shopping. Plant a garden. Enjoy your favorite restaurant. Travel. The list is endless. The important thing is to connect each day. Your marriage depends on it.
Consider the team. You and your husband are a team. It is not you against him or him against you. If you have that mindset, then the marriage loses. If you are pleased when he fails and you win, the marriage loses. If you hope that he experiences defeat so that you can be the victor, the marriage loses. You are a team – made one in God’s sight when you pledge your covenant to Him. Work for the team, not for yourselves.
I realize that most of the advice I’ve shared today implies a call to servanthood. That is correct. Serve your husband. Whether you work outside the home or not. You may say, “But I want him to serve me, too!” Yes, it would be ideal if serving each other was something you both did. But just because God has him as the spiritual leader of your family doesn’t mean you can’t lead him by example. Because that’s what Jesus did. He came to this earth to take on the nature of a servant. It is truly the greatest calling there is.
Talk with your husband about these safeguards. Which ones are you doing consistently and which ones need some attention?